TRAVEL with pat and lew

Archive for the ‘great restaurants’ Category

* Paris with Ron and Eileen

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 14, 2009

Paris with Ron and Eileen


We travelled to Paris this week, to meet our friends Ron and Eileen, and because we don’t need any excuse to enjoy the most beautiful city we know.

DSCN2260-headless saint-croppedThe trip began on Monday morning, when we took the 6:56 am train for the shortDSCN6000-Notre Dameride from Collioure to Perpignan, then switched to the high speed TGV to Paris, a trip scheduled to take 5 hours. Our train was delayed somewhere south of Paris, and at Gare de Lyon we were handed forms which, if we can figure out what to do, will get us some reimbursement on our ticket price. We taxied from the train station to the Hotel des Deux Isle on Isle St. Louis, a favorite of ours where we have stayed many times, then off in a light rain to Notre Dame where we had arranged to meet Ron and Eileen by the statue of the headless saint.

When they arrived, we took some pictures, then headed back to Isle St. Louis in search of a café where we could wait out the rain and learn what our friends had been up to since their arrival in Paris the day before. We ducked into one of our favorite creperies where we had wine and crepes and conversation.

Ron and Eileen had spent most of Sunday recovering from the flight and exploring the neighborhood around their hotel near the Arc de Triumphe. On Monday morning, they took a limo tour of Paris which gave them an overview of the city and identified several places they wanted to re-visit. The rain abated and we walked back past Notre Dame and across to the Left Bank and Boulevard St. Germaine. Just wandering, one of our favorite things to do in Paris. Ron helped Pat purchase a new calculator to replace the solar calculator that had apparently fried in the Collioure sun.

friends at the Grand Colbert

Dinner that night was one of our surprises for our friends; we had arranged to meet at the pyramid of the Louvre, a short walk from the restaurant. But the rains returned, and we decided to meet at The Grand Colbert, one of our favorites and the location of a great scene from “Something’s Gotta Give” with Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves. After a fine dinner, we returned to our respective hotels.

DSCN8082-Pat & Eileen at OrsayAt 9:00 am on Tuesday morning we met outside the Musee de Orsay, which unfortunately didn’t open until 9:30. Inside, Pat, who knows every painting, played the docent for Eileen, who was soaking up the Impressionists for the first time. After the de Orsay, we strolled across the Seine, through the TulleriesDSCN7604-renoir-croppedGardens, and along the rue de Rivoli to Angelina’s, where we enjoyed the sinfully thick hot chocolate.

Ron and Eileen went to the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower; we begged off. We have learned that morning-to-night non-stop tourism is not for us. Retired as we are, we usually have the luxury of more time in any location, and for us, less is often more.

We met up again at Montemarte; Eileen bought a lovely original work of art, while Ron and I had ice cream. We taxied down the hill and walked for awhile on rue St. Honore. Ron and Eileen had reservations at La Tour de Argent, one of Paris’ most elegant venues, with spectacular sunset views of Notre Dame, to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Pat and I found an excellent brasserie called Hotel du Louvre, located at the Metro stop just behind the Louvre; we ate and were in bed before Ron and Eileen sat down for dinner.

*** great restaurant … Le Train Bleu ***

On Wednesday morning, our friends took a tour of Versailles while we wandered along rue de Rivoli in the Marais, making several small purchases at Monoprix, things that are not available in our little village. We took the Metro to station George V and then walked to the Hotel Raphael, where we met Ron and Eileen. The four of us took the Metro all the way across Paris to our second planned surprise; this was our friends first experience with the Paris Metro, which we think is one of the finest anywhere.

We emerged into the Gare de Lyon, one of Europe’s beautiful and characteristic railway stations. Ron and Eileen seemed to expect to board a train to take us to lunch, but we said there was a nice place right there in the station, sort of a local diner, that we really thought they would like.                                                     DSCN8107-at Train Bleu


Having thus underplayed Le Train Bleu, we watched their jaws drop as we entered the magnificent brasserie, with its high frescoed ceilings, richly paneled walls, brass fixtures, and elegant lunchtime crowd. The meal was superb, matching the experience on our own anniversary last year.

We opted to take the Metro back to the Marais, where Eileen enjoyed a successful visit in the Judaica shop. On the way we passed through the picturesque Place St. Catherine and the shops of rue Roziers; afterwards, we enjoyed a wonderfully crafted gelato built in the shape of a tulip. The only disappointment was the disappearance of Jardin le Gamin, one of our favorite local restaurants, now boarded up. Then, shock of all shocks, Ron and Eileen took the Metro back to their hotel by themselves.

We met again for dinner at a new restaurant for us on Isle St. Louis called Sorza, at 51, rue St. Louis en L’ile. Only ten tables, one wonderful waitress serving all, an excellent menu.

That was it. The next day, Ron and Eileen were off to Nice to complete their vacation, while Pat and I took the train back to Collioure, where we will be for the next four weeks before we begin a two week home exchange in Vilnius, Lithuania, with side trips to Warsaw, Krakow, and if we’re lucky, to the small villages where my grandparents lived over a hundred years ago before they came to America.

Posted in ... 2009, ... France - Paris, great restaurants | 2 Comments »

* the New York Cafe in Budapest … three for three

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 22, 2007


“May I take a picture?”

“But you must,” says the tuxedoed headwaiter with an appreciative smile.

We are generally satisfied with two out of three when we dine: ambience, quality of food, reasonable price. The ambience is clearly extraordinary.

The New York Café originally opened in October of 1894. It was described at the time as the most beautiful café in the world, and soon became the literary center of Budapest, home to writers and journalists, and later, film people.

World War One interfered, but the café rebounded into its second life between the world wars, adding food and becoming one of the city’s most elegant restaurants. During the Second World War, the café and restaurant were closed and the building became, under Nazi rule, the most beautiful warehouse in Europe. It reopened in 1954 but suffered under Soviet rule and eventually declined to a barely recognizable shell of its former glorious self.

Two weeks before our arrival, after five years of loving restoration at the hands of the Italian Boscolo Group, the Café re-opened within the similarly restored and renamed Boscolo Hotel, a golden fantasy of marble floors, curved columns, and statues. We gazed with open mouths.

The menu featured a wide selection of foods not typical of Budapest. The promise of delicate fish and sauces. A choice of fine wines. The lobster and pasta entrée, with a light cream sauce, was exquisite. My favorite in any country, pea soup, did not disappoint, and the medallions of sole, set among lightly sautéed potatoes, was a visual as well as culinary delight. For dessert, we shared a sinful hot chocolate pastry smothered in thick chocolate sauce.

The bill, presented in Hungarian forints, translated to $80.00.

Three for three.

Posted in ... Budapest, great restaurants | 1 Comment »